If there’s one part of RV life that falls short when replacing items we use at home, it’s the RV oven. Most RVs, even the more expensive ones, typically come with a standard RV propane oven and cooktop. Unfortunately, they are far from perfect and not always efficient for cooking or baking. For this reason, many RVers opt to purchase a toaster oven as a replacement.
An RV oven’s most significant challenges are efficiency and heat retention. In addition, RV oven temperatures vary widely, and dialing the right temperature is challenging. This often leads to many RV owners’ complaints, questions, and frustrations.
Luckily, if you do a lot of cooking on the road and rely on your oven, you may want to consider picking up a toaster oven. While smaller than an oven, you have much more control over its efficiency. Toaster ovens have come a long way, and modern units are pretty remarkable. The price range of a top-of-the-line toaster oven is hundreds of dollars under the cost of upgrading an oven.
What are Toaster Ovens?
This may sound like a silly question since many of us have used a standard toaster oven at some point in our lives. However, they have become much more advanced. Essentially, they are countertop ovens that offer many more features beyond making perfect toast. The first thing to realize is that they can heat, bake, and toast many food items, just like your standard oven. However, they’re compact, efficient, and perfect for a small kitchen like an RV.
Since these units fit into small spaces, they provide easy access to cooking while not taking up too much space. In addition, they offer special features for all types of cooking needs and, in many instances, allow for much more flexibility than your built-in RV oven. While the basic functions will remain the same, you can access important features like digital temperature controls, preset cooking modes, and advanced options like a built-in air fryer. It’s no wonder why a toaster oven has become the perfect choice for RVers looking for alternatives to their less capable ovens.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of RV cooking with a toaster oven:
- Versatility: A toaster oven can perform multiple cooking functions, such as toasting, baking, broiling, and even roasting. This versatility allows you to prepare a wide range of dishes. Many also offer air frying technology so that you can eliminate some small appliances for a do-it-all one.
- Compact: While another small appliance in your RV may be less desirable, newer toaster ovens are small, compact, and maximize space. They’re not all the long rectangular ovens you may have grown up with. Some units offer a space-saving cube-like design that can tuck away under a cabinet and pulled out when needed.
- Energy efficiency: Toaster ovens are generally more energy-efficient than full-size ovens. They heat up quickly due to their smaller size, requiring less time and energy to reach the set temperature. Also, newer ovens hold heat very well and are well insulated, keeping the heat inside where you want it.
- Reduced heat buildup: If you’ve ever tried baking in your RV oven in the summer, it can quickly heat up your whole RV. An RV toaster oven will typically generate less heat and be easier to regulate, which can be beneficial during warmer months. In addition, it won’t fight your RV air conditioner like a regular oven.
- Quicker cooking times: A toaster oven typically preheats more quickly, so you won’t wait as long to cook your food. This is typically a reason people use them at home, and this benefit is even more useful in an RV.
- Convenience: Toaster ovens are typically user-friendly and easy to operate. Depending on the model, you may get many features missing from your RV oven, like a control panel with digital temperature controls, timers, cooking presets, and convection baking. If you like to cook in an oven, this could be an excellent reason to consider a toaster oven. They’re also usually easier to clean and remove crumbs and other food debris.
While Toaster ovens are convenient and loved by many RVers, they have drawbacks. Here are a few you will want to consider
- Limited capacity: One of the most obvious limitations of a toaster oven is its size. They have a smaller cooking capacity than full-size and even RV ovens. If you’re a big baker, you may find even the largest toaster oven too limiting for your needs.
- Power requirements: While your standard RV oven will use propane, the toaster oven will use electricity. Any heat-related small kitchen appliance will draw a lot of power. Since RVs are sometimes stretched to the max in power availability, you may be unable to run a toaster oven, microwave, and two air conditioners simultaneously. While large 50 Amp RVs will handle this better, it’s possible to hit some limitations when using the toaster oven and need to turn something else off.
- Cooking times: Because of their smaller size and faster heating, a toaster oven can cook faster than a regular oven. You may need to adjust your cooking times to adjust for the change.
- Learning curve: While toaster ovens are generally user-friendly, there may be a learning curve to familiarize yourself with some more advanced units. This is especially true if you purchase a toaster oven with many bells and whistles. So while they can save you time in the future, you will have to learn how to use it.
Toaster Oven Power Requirements
The power requirements for a toaster oven can vary depending on the specific model and its features. However, most toaster ovens typically require between 1200 to 1800 watts of power. This is similar to what you would use in a
Each oven will have its power requirements. Most toaster ovens will adjust their energy consumption after it heats up, but it will fluctuate as it tries to maintain the set temperature. While this isn’t a big issue, it’s important to note that you could trip a fuse if you’re trying to run too many things at once. A good tip is to avoid using other high-wattage appliances like an electric heater, microwave, coffee maker, and hair dryer when cooking in a toaster oven. Most RVs will handle a toaster oven just fine if you manage your use.
While there aren’t really low-wattage toaster oven options, higher-quality units will offer better insulation and heat retention. In addition, you will use less energy over time since you don’t leak heat during the cooking process. Picture a regular toaster. The heating elements will get bright red, and the heat is quickly lost as it vents from the top openings. A good toaster oven will seal in that heat and regulate its heating elements to draw only what it needs to maintain the temperature.
My Favorite Toaster Oven Features
Toaster ovens are no longer just a box with a simple heating element. Instead, new technology has allowed manufacturers to integrate various important features that will add a lot of versatility to your RV kitchen without the need for dozens of small appliances. Below are a few of my favorites that I think are worth considering when shopping for an oven-replacement toaster oven.
Digital Temperature Control
This is one of my favorite features of a toaster oven. It allows you to set an exact back temperature as you do at home. My RV oven has a dial knob, and the accuracy leaves much to be desired. With a digital temperature control, you can always cook your food at the right temperature since you have precise control over the heat settings. This is a must-have feature if you’re getting a toaster oven to replace baking in your oven.
Air fryers are probably one of RVer’s most utilized small appliances. However, it’s another thing that takes up space, and adding other appliances like a toaster oven can quickly take over your countertops. If you opt for a toaster oven and like the convenience of an air fryer, consider getting one with this option built-in and repurpose your standalone unit for home.
Toaster Ovens make excellent air fryers when designed with this feature. An air fryer toaster oven will use a heating element to generate heat and a fan that rapidly circulates the hot air within the cooking area. The food is typically placed in a perforated basket or tray inside the air fryer, allowing hot air to cook evenly from all sides. The circulating hot air achieves the Maillard reaction, resulting in a crispy exterior. It’s very similar to convection baking, but the fryers are designed to maximize this process. Luckily, many higher-quality toaster ovens come with air fryer functions, so you can save room and have the best of both worlds when needed.
The one thing I miss in my RV oven, which I have at home, is convection baking. This feature moves the hot air throughout the oven, creating faster cooking and more even heat. Like an air fryer, it’s a great option for specific recipes. All of the models I recommend below have this feature. Even some of the less expensive models may offer this as well.
Preset Baking Options
Presets are a great option if you like to mix technology with baking. This is helpful if you want to worry less about the cooking process and spend more time enjoying yourself camping. Presets can be great, especially for simple things like baking pizza, reheating food, or cooking simple things like toast. Some units will have over 100 presets, which may be a plus or minus, depending on how you plan to use your toaster oven. But, regardless of whether you use them, it’s a good feature to have when and if you decide to try it.
While not a common feature in toaster ovens, some units offer this option. It basically uses the same method you would use in a regular oven to dehydrate food but handles the settings for you. While it’s not a must-have feature, if you enjoy dehydrating food and snacks and you don’t want to lug around a standalone dehydrator, this may be a feature worth exploring. It won’t be as efficient as an air-circulating dehydrator, but it works well for less complicated dehydration recipes like fruit and jerky.
When choosing a toaster option, easy cleaning is a must-have feature. Toaster ovens with a removable crumb tray, a clean setting, and a glass door will make cleanup less of a chore. A clean function will work like your regular oven by getting it super-hot to bake off any drippings or food particles left behind. However, be aware that any smoke from the unit can set off your smoke alarm in the RV. Therefore, I recommend running a clean cycle with the toaster oven outside on the picnic table.
Other beneficial features to look for:
- Small size: Size is an important factor when choosing a toaster oven. A compact design is beneficial if countertop storage space is limited. Measuring your space is important to find the right size unit for your RV kitchen.
- Ease of use: While some units have many options, if you don’t want or need them, look for a unit that is easy to use. While having access to cooking modes can be helpful, too many complicated ones you don’t use can get in the way of your everyday needs. You don’t want to read the instruction manual whenever you want to bake.
- Safety: I highly recommend choosing a toaster oven with built-in safety features like automatic shutoff when the door is opened.
- Wi-Fi: Some newer models even have Wi-Fi compatibility, where you can monitor and control your oven and food temperatures from anywhere. While it may seem overkill, you can quickly check your oven during an intense game of cornhole with family and friends outside. You are camping, after all.
- Capacity: If you’re looking for an oven replacement, choose a model with a large capacity and more than one oven rack or baking tray.
Favorite things to cook in a toaster oven
Toaster ovens are versatile, which makes them great for RV living. Since they can cook practically anything you can do in your regular oven, your options are limitless. However, everyone has their favorite things to cook in a toaster oven. Here are a few of mine:
- Toast and Bagels: Of course, one of the primary uses of a toaster oven is to make perfectly toasted bread, bagels, English muffins, or pastries. Unlike a regular toaster, where the slots on the top limit you, you can crisp up any size piece of bread in a toaster oven. I love to toast my sandwiches in my toaster oven.
- Baked Goods: Toaster ovens are great for baking small batches of chocolate chip cookies, brownies, muffins, or even mini cakes. Just adjust the cooking time and temperature accordingly. Toaster ovens also make a fantastic tool for cooking up some smores when camping.
- Pizza and Flatbreads: Toaster ovens can quickly cook personal-sized pizzas or flatbreads to perfection. They provide a crispy crust and melt the cheese evenly. While they easily handle frozen pizza, I find them perfect for reheating leftover pizza- no more soggy microwave pizza.
- Roasted Vegetables: I do a lot of cooking on my Blackstone griddle, but it has some limitations, such as roasting. Oven-roasted vegetables are one of my favorites, and it’s easy and fast to accomplish with a toaster oven. Cut up your favorite vegetables into bite-sized pieces, toss them with olive oil, seasonings, and spread them out on the baking sheet or tray lined with aluminum foil. You’ll have perfectly roasted vegetables cooked in no time and nothing to clean up.
- Broiled Meats and Fish: Toaster ovens with a broil setting are excellent for cooking meats like beef, chicken breasts, or fish fillets. Place them on a broiler or bake pan or a wire rack, season to taste, and broil them for a few minutes on each side for a quick and delicious meal.
- Small Baked Dishes: Since toaster ovens can handle small casserole dishes or oven-safe bowls, you can use them like a regular oven. However, I like to use small dishes and make individual portions of things like lasagna, macaroni and cheese, or shepherd’s pie—other baked dishes.
- Reheating Leftovers: While microwave ovens are fast and efficient for reheating food, there is no comparison to the taste and texture of a reheated meal in a toaster oven. It will take longer, but sometimes it’s worth the wait. This is especially true for any foods that should be crispy, like pizza, french fries, or fried chicken.
Top RV Toaster Oven Options
Bam! Here's an RV toaster oven worth checking out. The Emeril Lagasse 26 Qt oven is a unique design with some pretty spectacular features. The first thing you'll notice on this unit is the unique French door design, providing a much larger opening than traditional toaster ovens. This unit has one of the best air fryer setups for toaster ovens. Its easy-to-reach interior makes it perfect for larger meals and bulky food items. It's billed as a 10-in-1 appliance, with cook settings for using it as an air fryer oven, toaster, food dehydrator, and rotating rotisserie, indoor grill, slow cooker, and dough proofer.
It offers quite a few preset options when using its proprietary 360-degree Even Crisp Technology. While it sounds fancy, it's more of an advanced fan that circulated the air throughout the unit. One thing I really like about the unit is the included ceramic grill mat. This makes it easy to cook meats and maintain the broiled outside and juicy inside. I haven't seen this option on other toaster ovens. One thing to remember, though, is that this is a bigger unit. While it's great for larger portions, it may be too big for your RV countertop, especially if you plan to keep it out all the time.
You have a lot of options for cooking in this. Emril is known for his lasagna, so it's only appropriate that his branded toaster oven is large and versatile enough to handle larger casserole dishes. I also really like the rotisserie feature. However, I don't think it's something most RVers would use on a regular basis. It doesn't take up any extra room, so I suppose it's a nice feature in the event that you need/want it.
The controls panel on this toaster oven is really nice. It's located on the top and offers digital temperature control. The high heat setting is 500 degrees and adjusts down to a lower temperature of 85 degrees for dehydrating food. Some reviewers said that the outside gets pretty hot when at high temperatures, but not dangerously hot. Just keep that in mind if you have a small countertop and would be bumping into it a lot.
Overall, this is a really nice unit, and the French doors make it a great option for RV cooking. It is fairly big, so be sure to measure your available space before ordering.
- French door design makes it easy to access the interior for larger meals.
- Plenty big for cooking for large families.
- Versatility: Lots of options, including some unique features like rotisserie and dough proofing.
- Ceramic grill matt is perfect for cooking meats.
- The larger size is big enough to cook a 12" pizza
- It comes with a 10-piece accessory set for more cooking options.
- A reasonable price for what you get with it.
- Easily toast up to six slices of bread
- The 30-second timer on the light button is inconvenient, plus the logo light stays on when the unit is plugged in (not great for boondockers).
- Some presets have limited control over time, heat level, fan, and burners.
- The unit gets a little hotter than others on the outside
- The design of the spit bar assembly could be improved.
- 16.9" Deep
- 15.8" Wide
- 14.8" High
- 26 qt. capacity
If you’re looking for the best toaster oven to replace your RV oven, my top pick is the NuWave unit listed above. It’s an ideal choice for RV owners who want a versatile and powerful unit in a compact size. While the price tag may be a little higher than others, the price savings can be found by not needing to purchase separate small kitchen appliances. I think it’s one of the best units on the market today. However, if you like simplicity, the Cuisineart is an excellent choice and one of the most popular toaster ovens in the country. Regardless of what you choose, I hope you find an option that allows you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying camping. See you on the road!